The Interior Department's Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) began to implement its ill-conceived plan to eliminate all wild horses and burros from the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in northern Nevada. The first of two large-scale roundups began on Monday, September 9, 2013, ending on September 14 with the removal of approximately 415 horses. Due to the obstructed observation permitted, the accurate number of horses captured is unknown. The following approximate numbers were provided by the FWS:
Day 1, Monday .... 60 horses captured (trapsite #1: observers were kept 1 to 1.5 miles away from the trap site; no observation of horses in the holding area was allowed)
Day 2, Tuesday .... 100 horses captured (trapsite #1: no observers present)
Day 3, Wednesday .... 60 horses captured (trapsite #2: observers were kept at least 1/4 mile away from the trap site; no observation of horses in holding was allowed)
Day 4, Thursday .... 60 horses captured (trapsite #2: no observers present)
Day 5, Friday .... 30 horses captured (trapsite #2: no observers present)
Day 6, Saturday .... 90 horses captured (trapsite #3: no observers present)
TOTAL HORSES CAPTURED: Approx. 415
The Sheldon Refuge shows what our public lands can look like when livestock is not permitted to graze. The forage is plentiful and the ecosystem is healthy and robust. The wild horses look terrific given the lack of competition for forage.
In the last couple of months the Service secretly (e.g. without public notification) removed 50 burros and sent them to a rescue group. One of the last remaining burros in Sheldon -- we found a lone burro grazing in a field.
The Service is short-sighted in refusing to manage this refuge for the majority of Americans who expressed strong support to maintain a herd of horses in the Refuge. AWHPC will continue to work on this issue to secure a future for horses in Sheldon.
Sheldon horses leaving the Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Rod Giffels